Sunday, March 28, 2010

The power of Babel

Konkanis are the most multilingual of all Indian ethnic groups, while Hindi-speakers, Tamils and the Bengalis are the most linguistically constrained. 

If we look at which linguistic groups are the most bilingual or trilingual, there are pointers to what drives people to know or learn more than one language in India. For our analysis we looked only at linguistic groups which have a population of a million or more, since smaller groups clearly would almost necessarily have to be multilingual to be able to interact with the wider world.

Of the linguistic groups with millionplus populations, the Konkani speakers were clearly the most multilingual, almost threefourths of them speaking at least two languages and nearly half speaking three. Not surprisingly, given the geographical spread of the Konkanis, Kannada and Marathi were the other languages most of them spoke and English was the third most common subsidiary language among them.

Full report here TOI Crest

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